This article is re-posted from Bloom Your Birth website. Check out the original publication here.
Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and magical gift a mother can offer to her child. When formula was not available on the market, women have nursed and nourished their children since the beginning of humanity. It has unfortunately reduced since the introduction of cow’s milk formula.
Shame, I honestly want to say. Shame on our modern 2020 society, shame on the lack of information, shame on all these commercials selling this powdery milk as being ‘great’ for our kids, shame on the lack of support to new mothers! Shame – shame- shame.
Nevertheless, let me stop there. Yes, breastfeeding can be tough, challenging, tiring at times especially for first times mums right after birth. But the good news is, it does get better and it opens doors to wonderful memories and bonding with your precious baby or babies! I promise.
SO why so many mums are now jumping to the easy way and choose formula to feed their babies? Well the answer is pretty simple, most of them don’t have the right and useful information and support to successful established breastfeeding. It is indeed not surprising after pregnancy, labor and sometime sleepless nights that a new mum or even a mother of 3 decides to show the white flag and decides to stop.
I have indeed been there with my first child. Mastitis, fatigue, cracked nipples, stress, wet t-shirts, pain, thrush, going through the phase ‘I have no clue of what am doing right now’ and so on… Then I’ve simply called out for help and had a midwife lactation consultant coming over my house to show me how to properly latch my baby on, what to do after a feed, how to maintain my supply and how to take care of myself. And let me tell you something, it worked! The very same day, the pain was gone, my nipples were healing, and my baby boy and I were happier than ever! How grateful I was and still am.
SO – You’ve decided to breastfeed your baby. Congratulations and well done to you for at least giving it a try! Most women quit on breastfeeding because of pain, sore and/or cracked nipples during feeding etc…The most common reason behind these unpleasant sensations are latching issues and inadequate positioning.
I know it sounds a bit technical, and yes, it is quite. I was indeed very surprised myself of how knowledgeable you need to be to properly breastfeed your baby! I thought breastfeeding was a natural event between a mother and her baby so it should not be too technical and more practical.
While it is the case, for some mother/baby pairs (luckily) but for many of us it might require some extra help. So, there comes the CHINS!
Always remember the CHINS Rules when beginning your breastfeeding journey. This useful acronym was developed by Dr. Lynette Shotton:
- C – Close to your body so your baby doesn’t overstretch
- H – Head Free- Your baby’s head has to be free to tip backwards. Just support your baby’s head while allowing some free range of motion
- I – In-line – Your baby’s head and spine should be in a straight line with your body
- N – Your baby’s nose should touch/face your nipple
- S – sustainable – You and your baby are both comfortable and can maintain this position for a long period of time.
When to feed my baby?
Now that you’ve got it right with the latching and positioning. Golden question: when and how often to feed your baby?
You going to love reading this article, as everything seems so easy right? But the truth is, it is easy! Just feed on demand no matter the times, the place, the colour of the sky. Feed- feed- feed. And don’t worry your baby will not get’ overweight’ or ‘addicted’ or ‘spoiled’ or ‘bulimic’.
You have loved, nourished, grown, this tiny amazing human for 9 whole months into your cosy and safe tummy where he/she had food, love, attention and warmth 24H available with no interruptions. And now as mothers we are expected to leave our babies and train them to be ‘independent’? On a clock? Sticking to a schedule? And even wait only every 3 hours to be fed? Simply answer to any sign of alertness and offer the breast to your child. If he/she is not hungry, don’t worry she/he will surely let you know and move away his/her mouth or simply practice some comforting suckling.
Beyond food and weight gain
Comforting suckling. Have you heard of it? If not, pretty normal, I just made it up. Ahah. As you may guess from its name, comforting suckling is the act of offering/taking the breast to sooth, calm, reassure a tiny, helpless baby who just NEEDS his/her mother without being hungry necessarily. Your baby is used to your smell, the sounds of your heartbeat, your voice, your touch and wants to be with you.
BE WITH YOU. And yes, sometimes 22h/24h and it is NORMAL. Embrace this time when your baby clearly shows and asks for love and attention. And provide, provide, provide. As much as you can, want and as much as needed.
But will I make enough milk?
Another golden question here. Let’s talk about the feed-on-demand and demand/offer production cycle.
Your mammary glands produce breast milk in response to the frequency of suckling. The more your baby feeds the more milk you will be making. Well by you, I obviously mean your beautiful milk-making breasts machines. On the other side, if your baby suckles less, your milk production will consequently decrease. As simple as that.
This pattern is necessary to establish the initial milk supply hence the absolute need to focus on feeding as much as possible during the first few weeks of life of your baby.
Experimental research suggests that initiating feeding within an hour of childbirth helps ensure larger milk volumes in subsequent days (Liu 2018).
It also suggests that frequent feedings during the first few weeks postpartum (e.g., 10 feedings per 24 hours, as opposed to 7 feedings to per 24 hours) lead to greater milk intake and weight gain in newborns (De Carvalho et al 1983).
As your baby/babies grows you may wonder if you should still feed on demand? The answer remains yes. The quality and content of your milk is constantly evolving based on your baby’s needs even within a single day! In response of a change in your diet or maybe to fight of a naughty bacteria that just entered your baby’s immune system.
My top 6 tips to feed on demand successfully:
- Practice co-sleeping safely
- Take care of your wardrobe with day and night wear that can be easily opened up
- Always have a scarf, towel or nursing cover with you in your diapers bags, in your car, handbag to cover up when outside as per the law in UAE.
- Carry small nursing pads for any leaks (reusable always better) or small squared towels could do the tricks too!
- Carry you baby in a sling to increase oxytocin level (love hormone) and milk production
- Use a silicone breast pump when feeding your baby from one breast to collect dripping milk from the other. Few brands on the market have amazing products such as Haakaa
Hope you enjoyed reading this post and feel now ready to try, continue or even re-try to breastfeeding again- And yes, you can definitely restart your milk production even if you have stopped a few weeks, even months ago. Upcoming blog post coming on this amazing subject.
About the Author:
Anne, Bloom Your Birth founder, is a happy mother of 3 children and a passionate advocate of hypnobirthing and decided to share it with all women willing to take control over their pregnancy and birth. This is when she founded Bloom your Birth. To educate, enrich, and empower future parents. Check our partners page for more